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The backstory: Every year since 2008, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) releases a report on the state of global peace called the Global Peace Index. This index shows where we’re at in terms of overall peacefulness based on metrics like ongoing conflict, societal safety and security and militarization. It also uses these metrics to rank countries in terms of their internal peacefulness. The IEP surveys people in 163 countries to measure these factors. Iceland has ranked as the most peaceful country in the world every year since the first report was released.
More recently: This past year has brought a lot of challenges to the global community when it comes to peace. There’s the war in Ukraine, heightened tensions between world powers like the US and China and other roadblocks like climate disasters. We’ve been seeing the number of refugees and displaced people rise and political stability shaken in certain areas, like with the revolts in Iran, France, Israel and Pakistan.
The development: This year’s GPI was just released. Let’s start with the bad news – the world has become less peaceful for the 13th time in the last 15 years, with the average level of country peacefulness declining by 0.42% in the last year. In the report, a key finding was that the war in Ukraine is a major driver of this drop in peacefulness. The two metrics showing the largest drops in 2022 were conflict-related, external conflicts fought and deaths from internal conflict. The third is political instability. Even though a lot of countries have reduced their military spending, a lot of them are still involved in external conflicts. The number of people who’ve died from global conflict is the highest it’s been this century and since the Rwandan Genocide in 1994.
Meanwhile, overall peacefulness improved in 84 countries, sliding lower in 79. The metrics with the biggest improvements to peace were in UN peacekeeping funding (which has gone up) and military expenditure (which has dropped).The most peaceful country in the world is again Iceland, and the least peaceful country is Afghanistan for the eight consecutive year.
“The shift in the global distribution of conflict continued as major conflicts in the MENA region and South Asia declined, while conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and Asia-Pacific intensified,” said the IEP when it released the report. “The Russia and Eurasia region recorded the largest deterioration in peacefulness in the world.”
“The 2023 Global Peace Index highlights the contrasting dynamics of militarisation and conflict,” Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of IEP, said. “On the one hand, the majority of countries are decreasing their reliance on the military, while on the other hand an increasing number of conflicts are becoming internationalized. Conflict deaths are the highest since the Rwandan genocide which had over 800,000 deaths and sparked a wave of global action.”